Get ready to be outdoors with these tips for spring running!
Are you excited for the start of baseball season or just for the change in seasons? Either way, as the weather gets warmer and the daylight hours get longer many of us will be adding Spring running mileage back into our training routine. However, you may not be in the exact shape that you left off with last Fall. And, that’s okay. With these 7 Tips for Spring Running, you will be on the right path for a successful running season and the ‘Hunt for October’ Half and Full Marathons.
1. Focus on Consistency
The cold and dreary winter might have kept you from getting out the door for that morning run regularly. Now that the sun is shining and the temperatures rise, finding that motivation is a lot easier. If you had trouble staying consistent over the winter, then ease back into it. Most runners and coaches have heard of the 10% rule, which says that you should add no more than 10 percent per week to your total weekly mileage. While I believe most training plans should be specific to each, this formula is straightforward and efficient.
Also, try not to focus as much on pace and total miles. Instead, concentrate on perceived effort or time. There’s no hiding that the warmer weather will impact both your training and race paces. Trying to continue to push against environmental conditions can lead to GI distress, emotional stress, injury, and burnout. If you slow it down just for a few weeks as the seasons change, you will find your body adapting more efficiently to the change as well.
2. Proper Hydration for Spring Running
After months of training in cooler temperatures, the warmer weather can come as a shock to your system. Begin now by making a more conscious effort to focus on your hydration in your daily routine. The more dehydrated at the beginning of your race or workout, the more likely you will experience GI distress and low energy levels.
Before we reach the heat of summer, now is the time to practice new hydration strategies. Every runner is different in their needs, and practice makes perfect. Try out a new process or product before and during an easy workout. If one seems to work well, try it out during a more challenging or more extended training session. Give yourself time to fine-tune your hydration strategies before the next important race.
3. Keep a Training Log
As mentioned, a gradual increase in training volume is one of the essential determinants in improving performance and preventing injury. If you have never kept a training log, start simply by tracking your daily/weekly/monthly mileage and personal information, such as how you feel each day. If you find hydration or energy levels being an issue, you can track nutritional information. What gets measured typically gets managed.
By looking back over the information in your training log, you can determine where adjustments are needed. For example, if you find yourself struggling to improve your 5K time, you can look back to a time of successful training to see what might be missing from your current routine.
Keeping a training log can also be the accountability factor that is missing from your training. Having to record 2 hours of TV watching or video game playing instead of your workout can be all the motivation you need to get back on track!
4. Proper Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Implementing the proper warm-up and cool-down into a running routine can be the most challenging component to teach a runner. We tend to complete the tasks at hand and not focus on the entire process of becoming a complete runner. We get out of bed. Rush out the door to run. Jump in the shower, then out the door again for work. We show up a to group run and socialize before or after. Then, we question why we even try to run because our bodies are sore and not recovering properly.
As you increase your running volume again, here’s what to do differently. Take the first 5-minutes of your run as a warm-up and the last 5 to 10-minutes as a cool-down.
As you jog along at a leisurely conversational pace, mix in some high knees, lunges, skips, squats, etc. These dynamic movements will help to prime your body for the impact of running. A dynamic warm-up should get the blood flowing, activate the core and glutes, loosen the soft tissue around your calves and feet, and wake up your nervous system. You’ll know you’re ready to pick up the running pace when you’ve begun to sweat lightly.
Adding a proper cool-down into your running routine is one of the many reasons why I prefer to run by time instead of by distance. Time goals make it easier to break your workouts up into segments independent of the pace you can manage for the day.
When you finish a run, your body is still in” fight or flight mode.” A heightened state of your nervous system. The last thing you want to do is go straight from your run, take a quick shower, and sit the rest of the day without any transition period. Instead, perform a post-run cool down of 5 to 10 minutes of walking/jogging. Focus on breathing to help calm down your systems.
For example, consider a 45-minute tempo run. The first 15-minutes is your warm-up, followed by 2x 10-minutes at tempo pace (3-minute active recovery between each). That makes up the first 38-minutes of your workout and leaves 7-minutes for an easy-paced cool-down. Now, you have allowed your body to ease into the hard effort. And, you have given your body the chance to come down from the excitement of the run.
5. Keep Up the Cross-Training
Running is excellent for the body until it isn’t. Over time, a runner will develop tightness, aches, and pains that can be alleviated and treated without running to the doctor or popping pain meds. Listen to your body and address its needs. Spend a few extra minutes mobilizing and stretching while watching re-runs of “The Walking Dead.” It doesn’t take an hour-long yoga session or spinning to count as cross-training. Take 5 to 10-minutes daily to focus on what you need to address the most.
6. Check Your Shoes for Spring Running
Has the same pair of shoes been on your feet since that marathon last Fall? Take a quick second to test the following on your running shoes before adding up the Spring running mileage. Consider visiting your local running store to get properly fitted for shoes before getting too far into spring running.
- Do your shoes have a lot of miles on them? These days, most running shoes are only good for 300 to 400 miles depending on your running style, body weight, and running surface.
- Are you feeling muscle fatigue, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, or knee pain? When the cushioning in your shoes break down, you will start to feel more discomfort with running and feel like you will not recover quickly from each workout.
- Is the tread on the soles still well-defined on the bottom, or is it smooth and falling off? The soles last longer than the shoe’s cushioning and shock absorbency. So if the soles are worn down, it’s time for new ones.
- Do your shoes fail the twist test? If you hold your running shoes at both ends and bend the shoe, they should feel firm. An old shoe or one that doesn’t have proper support will twist easily. Note that this test can be a little deceiving if you have a more minimalist style of shoes. You can always perform this test on the same pair of shoes off the shelf to compare the firmness.
- Do new shoes feel much better? If you notice a significant difference in your new running shoes’ cushioning, then it’s probably time to retire the old ones and get fitted for a new pair of running shoes.
7. Join a Running Group
You see them run through your neighborhood a couple of mornings or evenings each week. Each time, they remind you that you need to get back on track with your training. Well, why not join them?
A running group can give you access to a running coach and scheduled workouts to focus your training. A running group’s social atmosphere can also keep you motivated and provide you with others to train with each week. You will discover new races, new hydration strategies, new products to help you prepare and make friendships that can last a lifetime!
Take these 7 tips for Spring Running, apply them, and get to running strong this season and beyond!